#133 The White Collar Crime Party

All Rights Reserved © 2005 Thomas W. Day

GeeWiz Bush's close friendship with "Kenny Boy" Lay (ENRON) and a large collection of recently convicted and accused corporate criminals is pretty good evidence that Republicans are closely linked with white collar crime.  Ronald Reagan hardly knew anyone who wasn't a corporate criminal and presented the nation to a close experience with several of those crooks in his cabinet and administration.  As a result, a record number of Reagan Presidential associates were accused, fined, or went to jail during that seriously flawed Presidency. 

The first edition of President George Bush smoothly slipped from hanging with oily white collar criminals to the Presidency and back to his high life with Fortune 500 mafia cronies.  Fahrenheit 9/11 showed us GB 1's close relationship with corporate oil criminals in a scene with a crowd of oil executives and Saudi royalty. 

Here in Minnesota, our current governor Pawlenty was "employed" doing nothing for a year, at $4500/month by his "advisor" and Access Anywhere pay telephone exec Elam Baer.  Pawlenty had this gig for a year running for the highest state office and "serving" in the state legislature. Pawlenty's big money backer asked absolutely nothing from his Republican pool boy for two years, while the candidate established his candidacy.  In exchange for nothing, Pawlenty received at least a $54k "consulting fee" and his backer received "future considerations" (as they say in Republican doublespeak).  Even before the election, the money guy was saying that he'd "received fair value" for his investment in Pawlenty.  We're still waiting to see the pictures of what Pawlenty did to earn $54k.  Access Anywhere and its subsidiaries have been fined for a variety of consumer fraud abuses by several states.

These fine examples of Republican amorality are nothing new for the GOP.  Since Grant, most Republican candidates have been crooks first, politicians second, and Americans behind every other entertainment.  Eisenhower was a slight departure from the norm, but he waited until his last moment as President to, uncharacteristically, lash out at the white collar criminals heading the "military-industrial complex."  Otherwise, his term of office was decorated with scandals and abuses of power and weeks of vacationing at the nation's finest golf courses.  Republicans are nothing if not expert at relaxing and ignoring they job they've been elected to perform.

This year, though, the Republicans are coming out of the closet with the kind of confidence that could only belong to a party that does not fear losing the next election.  They have a right to feel fearless, now that they have fixed national and local elections so that they can "win" any office they decide to fill.  Being unafraid of the whim of democracy, their first act is to provide the same kind of immunity to their white collar criminal buddies.  So, "tort reform" has risen to "the most important problem the nation faces," according to Republicans and their $4,000 suit cohorts. 

"Tort reform," if you haven't been paying attention, is directed at a specific, very narrow aspect of civil law; the part that allows the rest of us to strike back at the abuses of big business and other white collar criminals.  Real tort reform would embrace all aspects of legal time-wasting, including the overwhelming number of frivolous business-to-business lawsuits.  But Republicans, on the rare occasion they develop any practical skills, are occasionally corporate lawyers.  And business law is one of the few places where large companies can beat small companies.  So, this pretense of "tort reform" is only aimed at limiting the capability of class action lawsuits.  Because the last thing a Republican wants is for his gravy train to be taken to court, shown to be as criminal as we all know they are, and deprived of millions of dollars that could be better spent putting a well-connected Republican into political office. 

Forbid the thought that a poor or middle class person might find a way to strike back at a corporation that caused loss of life, limb, or means of survival.  Republicans believe that our courts are reserved for whatever purposes the really evil white collar criminals believe they are best served.  "Tort reform" is intended to protect big tobacco, bigger oil, drug manufacturers, polluters, inside traders, creative accounting executives, and the long list of incredibly rich and powerful white collar criminals. 

The arrogant bastards who are promoting this think you don't have the brains to know what they are doing.  So far, all of their decisions have been based on the assumption that the average US voter is too dumb to know what's good for him.  They're probably right.  The world is still waiting to hear about the first scumbag to go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

April 2005

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